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Messages - roxanne

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Homebrew Clubs / Re: Club Brew Advice Wanted
« on: September 14, 2011, 11:46:17 PM »
Work out the payment details in advance - so everyone is aware of what their 'portion' of the brew will cost and comes prepared to pay (unless the club is paying - but usually, these types of costs are split between participants since not all club members are involved).

I've had more luck with back-sweetening by making a small amount of a very sweet mead, and then blending (vs. just adding more raw honey).  I'll make a gallon or 2 of mead starting at a very high gravity (1.140+) and letting it ferment.  The - experiment with a small amount to find the blend that works the best.  It's best using the same type of honey - but it can work OK otherwise - just takes a bit of checking before blending the full batch to make sure.  Start with 1/4-3/4, half & half, and 3/4-1/4 to see what will give the taste you are looking for.

Club Leadership & Organization / Dues & such
« on: July 15, 2011, 01:32:32 AM »
Thought it might be helpful to have a discussion about dues and how clubs approach this.

When I was president of our club - we had a very specific discussion about dues & membership.  Were dues just for the person?  What about family memberships, etc.  At the time - we decided that the dues covered the entire family (living in the same household).  No difference in price.  One of the key driving forces was to make it easier for members to stay members!  By making spouses welcome and comfortable, we limited the conflicts between the spouses that often ended with someone having to limit their club time (and maybe drop out).  Spouses come to meetings (and often provide a lot of volunteer support).  They also end up getting involved in other ways - usually first as stewards, learning to judge (and eventually, some end up brewing, too).  They won't come to every meeting (maybe not the super technical ones) - but they do come to meetings and contribute.

We just revisited this decision last month - and decided it was still the right decision for our club.

I think it would be interesting to hear about other points of view on this.  This is right for our club, but not necessarily others.  Thoughts (and rationale - that helps others understand the questions involved, too!).

Michael - a couple of thoughts.

Schedule some brew days - where people bring their equipment to someone's house and everyone brews together.  Not necessarily the same recipe - but something to encourage the 'brewing' part. You might also be able to do this in the parking lot of your homebrew shop or other places (just like national homebrew day).

We had a time when we had a group of people who were less interested in the topics, and it would be hard for the people who wanted to hear the talk actually hear the speaker.  We just addressed that head on.  Our solution at the time was that we started with club business (mostly announcement - since the real business is usually done at the board meetings) - and everyone listened to that.  When the presentation time came - those who weren't interested in that topic were asked to go to a different part of the room so that those who wanted to listen could hear and ask questions.  The solution worked well (and - most people are now listening to the technical topics :D).  We also have some meetings with technical topics and others where people specifically CAN talk and taste (style nights, etc.) - so we have a good balance of topics.

Club Leadership & Organization / Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« on: July 01, 2011, 12:11:58 AM »
The non-brewing members often can be great volunteers to help at events and meetings.  They will learn and become evangelists for the hobby - even if they don't brew (yet).

Also - I'd be really careful about screening out members because they don't feel like a fit.  First impressions can be wrong.  In many cases, once I've gotten to know someone better, I can better appreciate what they bring to the club.  If they really aren't a fit, they will likely drop out over time.  If they end up being a problem - clauses in by-laws or a code of conduct can help you deal with that (usually - things that put the club at liability risk).  And - restricting membership this way can get you a reputation as elitist - even among members you may have wanted to join.  It's really hard to shed this type of label once you have it.

Club Leadership & Organization / Re: Limiting Club Memberships
« on: June 30, 2011, 11:59:58 PM »
We don't limit membership. If we had tried to limit membership when we were growing, we would be in a very difficult position now.  Club members grow into workers and leadership positions at different rates - and I think that most clubs need a mix of experience levels in the leadership positions.  There will always be attrition.  Some people will stay members, but not be present for a while as other life priorities need to be dealt with (or - will come back later when the other priorities settle down).  One side effect of limiting membership is that people in the club will start to burn out - there is little new blood to take on new roles.  Without new people, eventually the folks doing all the work just can't do it anymore.

Meeting space can be difficult - but maybe we can talk about some creative ways around that?
 8)We got lucky and found a community center that can accomodate us now (and with a fair amount of growth).  We pay a donation each month - and our meeting raffle usually covers those costs.
 8)If you have a club that is getting too big for it's location - increase the dues to cover location costs, or - maybe take a collection at each meeting to cover meeting location costs.
 8)For folks in states who are lucky enough to be able to meet in a place with a liquor license... - talk to them.  Maybe you can get an area for free if a certain number of members buy dinner before/after the meeting.

If people are concerned that others won't join a club that is too big - it's fine for those new folks to look at forming a separate club.  As an interesting note - the original members of the second club formed in Cincinnati formed for that very reason.  Both clubs are successful and growing (and - are about the same size, now :P).  The clubs get along fine today - and we do some events together - which makes us a very large group for those things!

Other Fermentables / Re: Maple "Mead?"
« on: June 25, 2011, 11:33:45 PM »
I have brewed with 100% maple syrup.  I did a starting gravity of about 1.110 (similar to a standard mead).  Maple syrup is less concentrated than honey - so 1 gallon of maple syrup makes about 3 gallons of fermented maple (similar to 1 gallon honey making 4 gallons of mead at the same gravity).  The fermentation finished at about 1.015.

It was a very intereting product - fairly bland for the first 6 months or so.  Then it went into an odd phase for a while (some described it as 'soy-like').  After about 2 years it reached the sherry like stage, with noticeable maple notes.  Make sure to use grade B maple syrup.

It can't be entered (yet) - but I have been thinking it's time for an "alternate fermentables" category.  I've also played with 100% agave nectar (as have others), 100% date palm sugar (odd aroma, but it dissipates in about 5 minutes to a great taste), brown rice syrup (don't bother), and hope to do a few others.  I start with 1 gallon batches with these 100% fermentations to see what they are like.  It's a great way to learn about the flavors that a different sugar will impart to beer or mead - and you create some interesting products on their own.

Other Fermentables / Re: Need Advice--Did I ruin my honey?
« on: June 25, 2011, 11:24:37 PM »
For the future, another option is to warm the honey in the microwave.  Microwave for about a minute - it will flow pretty easily.  Better to start with lower times & then add more time.    I've also used a microwave to help with crystalized honey - Microwave for a minute or 2 (lids off).  Recap & shake (or stir if it's really solid).  Let it sit for a 5+ minutes so some of the honey sugar can redissolve.  Repeat as needed.  Just don't microwave for too long (if the water in the honey gets too hot, it may cause some spillover.

Ingredients / Re: Sesame seeds
« on: June 25, 2011, 12:31:54 AM »
One options is to do a "high" spice batch and an equivalent low or no spice batch.  Blend the 2 batches until you get the ratio of spices you like (much like blending meads).  It requires a plan and an extra batch (or - a mistake and an extra batch :P), but it would probably get you in the right ballpark pretty quickly.  I went a bit overboard with some black pepper - but we have some of the same brew without pepper that we will be using to determine what the level should be the next time we try.

Rob's brewing a Kolsch tomorrow (while I'm at work  :'(), and on Saturday, we're brewing a 30 minute Pale Ale at a brewout nearby.  The Pale Ale is a starter for next week's brew.

We have a variety of activities - some that are standard/repeating, others have a run of a couple of years, and still others are one-time (or once every 5+ years ;)) types of things.  For example:

Our all-keg competition & party (every year for MANY years) and our club only competition.
Brewing challenges like fixed recipe and Iron Brewer (can do for 2-3 years before people burn out).
Technical talks & style nights
Equipment nights (making, showing, swapping are all options)
Name that beer
Anything involving beer & food & families
Brewouts & campouts (complete with secret ceremony)
Mead meetings (disucssion or making a mead, followed by tasting of everything that members bring - designated driver strongly recommended)
Bottle exchange at holiday parties (usually pot luck - AND - a few vertical tasting generally pop up).
Barrel filling get togethers.

I can provide details of any of these for folks who are interested.

Club Leadership & Organization / Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« on: June 23, 2011, 11:23:09 PM »
While one option is to start a new club - another option is to go to a meeting or event as a guest.  Most clubs have a provision for new people to come to 1-2 meetings before needing to join.  This way - you can get a feel for the club, how many people REALLY attend meetings and the 'personality' of the club.  You may find that you like a lot of the events the club does - even if you aren't a monthly meeting type of person.

We also have people in our club who are members of another club, and their more informal group of 6-ish.  Having multiple options can give you the type of activities you prefer.  I'd just encourage you to go beyond the 'numbers'.  You may have done this already - but it doesn't hurt to check them out beyond their website.

The following question was sent to Crispy, who also copied me.  I am posting the question & replies here so all can benefit.  We can continue this conversation here.

I am now the acting treasure of our local club in Memphis TN.  Problem is our checking account has an old members social security number on it.  I assume I need to get a tax ID and set something up more official.  I want to make it so the next treasurer will be easily able to take over the duties.  Near as I can research we are currently an unincorporated association.  At this time do I need to consider setting up a trust to handle the finances of the club?  Club Officers would be the trustees, since as near as I can tell unincorporated associations cant own property (like bank accounts).

Thanks for any advice you can provide

Initial Responses
I am currently treasurer of my club, and I maintain the checking account under my name/social security.  We currently have no officers, and therefore can not incorporate.  I am cc’ing two much more knowledgeable people on this issue, but my thinking is that the old checking account will need to be cashed out, and if the club members agree, either the club needs to incorporate, or will need to continue to start anew with each succeeding treasurer

my Addtional perspective:
A few thoughts.

First - check with your bank to see what is required for an account for an organization IN YOUR STATE.  My guess it that they will need some type of taxpayer ID.  Frankly, I would not want to use this under my personal account and social security number because that could make me a liable person (vs. the club).  I don't know if this would mean that my personal assets would be at risk if something happened, but I would NOT want to take that chance.

Second - I don't know much about trusts - but that just doesn't have the right feel to it.  Again - you need to check your local laws and with your financial institution.

If you have a club taxpayer ID and the account is for the organizaiton - changing the names of those who can write checks & deposit money is usually a pretty simple form (need to keep the mailing address up to date, of course).  A taxpayer ID should take the place of a SS# in bank documents for an organization.

Again - I can't stress strongly enough that you need to determine what is right for YOUR STATE.  There were some reasons we hired a lawyer to help with ours that go beyond simple paperwork (a very large competition + party, ambiguity in state laws, liability concerns, etc.).  Your bank may be able to provide you with enough of the basics depending upon your state.

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